Solving Interpretable Kernel Dimensionality Reduction

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Chieh Wu, Jared Miller, Yale Chang, Mario Sznaier, Jennifer Dy


Kernel dimensionality reduction (KDR) algorithms find a low dimensional representation of the original data by optimizing kernel dependency measures that are capable of capturing nonlinear relationships. The standard strategy is to first map the data into a high dimensional feature space using kernels prior to a projection onto a low dimensional space. While KDR methods can be easily solved by keeping the most dominant eigenvectors of the kernel matrix, its features are no longer easy to interpret. Alternatively, Interpretable KDR (IKDR) is different in that it projects onto a subspace \textit{before} the kernel feature mapping, therefore, the projection matrix can indicate how the original features linearly combine to form the new features. Unfortunately, the IKDR objective requires a non-convex manifold optimization that is difficult to solve and can no longer be solved by eigendecomposition. Recently, an efficient iterative spectral (eigendecomposition) method (ISM) has been proposed for this objective in the context of alternative clustering. However, ISM only provides theoretical guarantees for the Gaussian kernel. This greatly constrains ISM's usage since any kernel method using ISM is now limited to a single kernel. This work extends the theoretical guarantees of ISM to an entire family of kernels, thereby empowering ISM to solve any kernel method of the same objective. In identifying this family, we prove that each kernel within the family has a surrogate $\Phi$ matrix and the optimal projection is formed by its most dominant eigenvectors. With this extension, we establish how a wide range of IKDR applications across different learning paradigms can be solved by ISM. To support reproducible results, the source code is made publicly available on \url{}.